Even amid the chaos, college football doesn’t need rescuing

College football is collapsing, and by the way, here’s some news: A 129-year-old program that went 5-7 last year just set a school record for season tickets sold.

Not only are these new transfer rules driving fans away, they’re ruining everything people loved about the sport. In an unrelated development, Fox and ESPN just sent the Big Ten and the Southeastern Conference two giant blank checks, along with their Zelle passwords.

As for all the college kids driving sports cars and buying extravaganzas like video games, restaurant food, and gas with their name, image, and likeness to money? It’s completely unsustainable.

We know this because the football coach makes 80 times more in state money than the governor told us.

Then again, maybe the whole world doesn’t crumble on the poor overworked multi-millionaire conference commissioners, or the multi-millionaire athletic directors who can no longer collect all the alumni donations themselves, or the offensive coordinators. multi-millionaires who now have to spend valuable parts of their workdays concerned about player satisfaction.

Perhaps – and listen to me on this – the trend of five-star quarterbacks and All-American pass rushers deciding to switch schools like regular students isn’t a pressing enough issue to require the action by the US Senate.

Crazy talk, I know.

But maybe college football needs to stop battling the winds of change and learn to start living with them.

What is clear now is that the apocalyptic preachers have been wrong all along. Compensating players for the cost of their participation hasn’t bankrupted athletic departments. The easing of transfer rules hasn’t killed fan interest. Allowing NIL payments hasn’t made college football less lucrative as a whole.

By all accounts, the game is more valuable than ever, even if some of the current circumstances have turned it into a bit of a mess. Coaches are not mistaken when they say that the NIL era has left a huge gap between the rules that are on the books of the NCAA and the rules that the NCAA is able to enforce. They’re also not wrong when they point out that the constant turnover of players through the transfer portal probably needs to be addressed in some way.

But the answer is not to go back in time. As USA Today’s Dan Wolken noted in a recent column, the most obvious endgame here is one in which programs collectively bargain with players while acknowledging what’s been clear for decades: that players work as university employees.

Once that happens, there can be negotiated limits on movement between teams, and there will be no debate over whether a player gets paid for dodgy NIL endorsements or just to dress up.

And if that’s where we’re headed, then the two groups of U.S. senators who allegedly have ideas about college athletic legislation are wasting their time.

Some college coaches, commissioners and athletic administrators think it’s a good idea and are asking for help. They say things will get worse if Congress doesn’t intervene.

But as Wolken wrote, “It’s hard to reconcile the idea that everything is awful and needs congressional salvage when the Big Ten is about to sign a media rights deal that could distributing $100 million a year to its members and that $5 million is considered an insult”. SEC coaching salary.

The college football business may be chaotic right now, but it’s thriving nonetheless.

And there’s perhaps no better example of that than what’s happening in Austin, where a Longhorns team that lost more than it won last season continues to generate interest, continues to rack up recruits, continues to rack up ZERO money for its players, and continues to add to the financial coffers of one of the richest programs in the country.

On Friday, the Longhorns announced they sold more than 7,000 new season tickets in 2022, pushing them above the 2019 record of 63,279. In fact, when UT host Alabama on Sept. 10 at Royal Stadium -100,000 seat memorial, fans will not be able to purchase a seat for a single game. The only way to access it will be through a subscription plan, or through brokers in the secondary market.

Starting this weekend, lower-tier tickets near the 50-yard line were available on StubHub for over $2,000 each. And when people pay that price and show up at the stadium in September?

They will be shocked at how badly college football has fallen apart.

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Twitter: @mikefinger

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